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When it Comes to Data Storage Spending, Knowing Your Total Cost of Ownership is Key

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Ever wonder if you are getting the best deal on your data storage? Understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO) is critically important to any data storage purchase decision.
Today we introduced our new TCO Calculator, an updated version of our online tool that helps IT professionals assess and compare TCO for automated tape storage, disk-based storage, and cloud-based archive storage. The new TCO Calculator raises the maximum user storage baseline from 10PB to 100PB, integrating the IBM TS4500 enterprise library using LTO-8 drives and media for initial capacities over 10PB. Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive and bulk retrieval service is now also included in cloud storage cost comparisons.
After entering data into the TCO Calculator, users can download a customizable results report which includes an executive summary, key cost assumptions, and TCO by cost category and type (e.g., energy costs, offsite costs, service fees, labor, bandwidth, etc.).
Find out how you can start saving on your data storage costs now. Access the free TCO Calculator here.
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Managing The World’s Hyperscale Data Growth

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While backup remains an active use case for tape due to its value for fast site restores and anti-cybercrime, tape’s future growth opportunities lie in many new and emerging areas. With the Internet, cloud, big data, compliance and IoT waves promising unprecedented data growth, the timing for advanced tape functionality couldn’t be better.

Check out this new white paper from Horison Information Strategies to learn how the tape renaissance is ushering in the era of modern tape.

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Do-it-Yourself Cartridge Repairs Anyone?

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By Brian Kelly

Have you ever watched a TV show featuring some dangerous activity and the warning comes up “Do not attempt this yourself?” It’s usually good advice and reminds me of an experience I had recently.

I had the pleasure of co-presenting at “The Reel Thing,” a part of the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference in Portland, Oregon with Steve Kochak from Digital Preservations Laboratories. During my part of our presentation I was able to explain to the audience how an LTO cartridge is made and explained in detail each of the different components in a cartridge and what their functions are.

Steve then had a presentation set up to show how one can disassemble a cartridge and reattach a Leader Pin.  The audience was very excited and curious to see the inner workings of a cartridge and the reattachment of the Leader Pin. During the Q&A part of the presentation, after seeing Steve successfully disassemble and reassemble a cartridge and reattach a Leader Pin, the common theme in the questions being asked was, “can I repair my cartridges myself?”

While the answer in some cases is yes, especially with the correct tools, my advice for the audience was that we do not recommend repairing your cartridges yourselves and that we at FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. accept returns from customers for analysis and repairs. Our technical support team in our U.S.-based factory just outside of Boston handles the cartridges with special care inside of a clean room environment to make sure that no debris comes into contact with the tape, especially in cases where the cartridge has to be opened. With Leader Pin reattachments, we put the cartridge back through the clamping process to make sure it is done properly. We take extra care of customer returns to ensure protection of the cartridges, as well as the customer data that may be saved on the tape. Performing these repairs yourself could lead to further damage and potentially the loss of data, especially if not done carefully or in the right environment.

So “don’t attempt this yourself” and risk losing your data. Leave your repairs to the professionals, we are more than happy to help!

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The Tape Renaissance

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The magnetic tape data storage industry has withstood numerous challenges from its own past performance, from the HDD industry, and mainly from those who are simply uninformed about the major transformation the tape industry has delivered. Early experience with non-mainframe tape technologies were troublesome and turned many data centers away from using tape in favor of HDDs. Mainframe tape technology was more robust. Many data centers still perceive tape as mired in the world of legacy tape as a result. However, this view is completely out of date.

In this new white paper, Fred Moore, president of Horison Information Strategies, explains why it’s time to take advantage of the many benefits tape can bring to your storage infrastructure.

Read the white paper here.

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Storage Switzerland Video: Considering the Total, Rather than Upfront, Cost of Backup Storage Infrastructure

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In a recent Storage Switzerland blog, Lead Analyst George Crump talks about how, because IT is perpetually working to lower both capital and operating expenses associated with backup storage infrastructure, backup workloads are common targets for migration to the cloud. However, this is not necessarily the most effective strategy for optimizing cost efficiencies.

In this video, he talks with IT consultant Brad Johns about why IT organizations should holistically evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their backup storage infrastructure, as opposed to focusing solely on immediate costs such as upfront infrastructure acquisition.

Check out George’s blog for more details:

Considering the Total, Rather than Upfront, Cost of Backup Storage Infrastructure

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It’s Time to Wake up and Smell the Tape!

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By Rich Gadomski

I just spent a full day at a meeting of the Active Archive Alliance and as I was flying home it occurred to me that it’s time for data storage managers to rise up from the sleepy status quo of buying more disk arrays to address runaway data growth problems. It’s time to wake up and smell the sweet aroma of freshly made modern data tape (sort of like that new car smell if you don’t know).

Why do that you ask? Because best practices and undeniable facts say so. Consider the following:

Data goes through a lifecycle from hot to cold, that is to say from a period of active use to a period of inactivity. This can happen in as little as 30 days or less.

Inactive data should not stay on primary storage devices. It takes up space on expensive storage media, consumes more energy and adds to the backup burden.

What to do? Delete it? You probably can’t get permission to delete it, all data is now potentially valuable with new artificial intelligence (AI) and analytic tools emerging to derive value from that data. But you can move it and stop copying it!

Where do you move it to? Put it in an active archive consisting of low cost disk cache and even lower cost long term storage like a high density automated tape library. To store one petabyte of data for 10 years in a tape library will cost around $220,000 depending on your TCO variables. Alternatively, you could spend $900,000 on HDD and around $1,300,000 for cloud. Need more capacity? Tape libraries easily scale by adding more slots and tapes. You can export full tapes and plug new ones in. Move the full tapes offsite and get the benefit of air gap since the data is physically isolated from other networks. At least you know that data can’t be accessed and held for ransom.

Getting end user access requests for that data all of a sudden? Move it back to disk cache and serve it from there. When done, move it back to the tape library. Tape is super-fast, 360 MB a second and file access is made easier and faster with LTFS.

How to orchestrate all this? Intelligent data management solutions help move data automatically. Leverage metadata and AI tools to analyze files and move them off primary storage if they don’t belong there.

Does this sound like a tiered storage strategy? It is and it’s also known as an active archive. This is a best practice used by the biggest and most advanced data generating companies in the industry. If it works for them, it will work for you too.

There’s a lot of hype in the storage industry with lots of folks looking for new, better ways to do things. But some things are tried and true, like tape, with the benefits of constantly evolving capacities, performance, reliability and long term archivability. So wake up and smell the tape…put your data where it belongs and get on with your day!

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Video: How CERN Migrated 100PB of Data

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For over five decades, CERN has used tape for its archival storage. In this Fujifilm Summit video, Vladimir Bahyl of CERN explains how they increased the capacity of their tape archive by reformatting certain types of tape cartridges at a higher density.

 

 

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Storage Switzerland Video: Reintroducing Tape to Disaster Recovery

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Previously, Storage Switzerland blogged about the merits of employing a tape storage hierarchy to cut backup storage costs. Tape media can furthermore add value as a tier in the broader disaster recovery strategy, as well.

As Lead Analyst George Crump overviewed in a recent video, applications are not all created equal when it comes to recovery time objectives (RTOs, the amount of time that it takes to get an application back up and running following an outage)

Check out George’s blog for more details and to view the video:

Reintroducing Tape to Disaster Recovery

 

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A Neat Solution for Tape Stacking and Migration

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By Andy Feather

I often hear from customers that are sitting on scores of legacy tapes with unknown contents beyond a generic “business data” level, and 99+ percent of them are not known at a granular level. As we all know too well, disaster recovery backups morphed into unintentional data archiving these past 10 – 15 years thanks to litigation and government regulatory investigations, along with general business obligations to retain certain records.  The duty to preserve has forced businesses to preserve backup tapes if at least one file on the tape might be under some form of preservation obligation.  The IT staff almost never has the equipment or human resources to perform targeted restores of data under preservation and stack it together with other similar data, so they take the easy way out: buy more tape and retain existing tapes vs. overwriting their contents.  Companies change backup software providers and migrate to newer backup platforms and get stuck paying maintenance and support for software and hardware they no longer use, but might one day.

An additional problem lies in the fact that companies are waking up and realizing that while tape as a storage mechanism is a great value, the real estate and costs associated with parking and retaining them in mass quantities can add up.  In response, companies like Seagate and TapeArk offer to move large volumes of data into the cloud, but does this provide value to the customer?  Why pay to migrate thousands of tapes to the cloud on the chance that you might one day need to access them?

So I came across a neat solution to this problem from a service provider/software developer named SullivanStricklerout of Atlanta. They recognize the gap between the status quo and the cloud and created TRACS/TDF and TRACS/TSF.  TRACS stands for Tape Restoration and Cataloging System, TDF for Tape Duplicate File and TSF for Tape Session File. TDF and TSF files are both file containers which consist of data from legacy backup tapes, regardless of the source tape type and backup software format. TDF and TSF provide customers with a catalog of the contents of the tape and the ability to immediately restore the contents of the once backup tape, now TDF or TSF file, and/or stack and store the TDF/TSF files onto newer, higher capacity media using LTFS or some other backup software.

The economics of tape stacking have been explored for years, but the “value” of the exercise provided little ROI until 6.0 TB LTO-7 tapes arrived.  The combination of reducing the storage costs associated with 60 LTO-1 (100 GB) tapes and replacing them with one LTO-7 tape, along with the increased value of discovering the contents of long forgotten backups and never having to pay licensing and support fees for technologies you no longer use, combine to provide the justification for businesses to begin to explore a stacking/migration effort.

Some customers ask, “But if I am going to undertake this effort, why do I need to migrate everything instead of only what I need to keep?”  This is a very valid question, and is a good segue into the differences between TRACS/TDF and TRACS/TSF files.

TDF or Tape Duplicate File, is a byte-for-byte copy of the source tape, with the addition of a catalog of the tape contents appended to the file.  Files ranging in quantity from one to all can be restored from a TDF file, and as a bonus the conversion process is reversible.  This means that customers who convert from tape to TDF format can ultimately rewrite the data back out to tape so that it can once again be used by the backup software which originally created the tape, should there ever be a need.

TSF, or Tape Session File, differs slightly from a TDF file.  Whereas a TDF file is a duplicate copy of an entire tape in one logical volume container, a TSF file is an individual logical session container from a tape.  A TSF file can be created for one backup session, up to all of the backup sessions on the tape.  TSF files are exciting because of the business value they provide.  TDF files provide great value due to the stacking and cataloging elements, but TSF files allow users to pick and choose which backup sessions to retain and which can be deleted.  If a company’s preservation requirements are such that they need to retain all backups of their email system and their file servers, but not their domain controllers, print servers, departmental databases, etc., then TSF files allow them to do this by breaking up the “if I need one file I need to keep the entire tape” limitation.   This process results in an even larger business value than TDF through the reduction in risk associated with retaining data which need not be retained, and since not all sessions will be retained by customers, the reduction in data volume is multiplied.

Additionally, with one eye on the growing number of state, national and international regulations concerning data privacy and information governance, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California’s Consumer Privacy Act, TSF allows for the defensible deletion of files stored within backups, without impacting the remaining backed up files.  This type of targeted deletion of data originating from tape is quite unique, and all performed without restoring the data from a single tape.

Of course there are other solutions but I like the simplicity and logic of TRACS/TDF and TRACS/TSF. Certainly it’s more practical and affordable than what Seagate and TapeArk propose!

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